Distilling Texas History - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Distilling Texas History

When Andrew Braunberg moved to Austin in 2012, he began a deep dive into the history of Texas whiskey. Leaving a career in tech to eventually launch the Still Austin Whiskey Company in 2017, he researched the whiskeys made before Prohibition so he could recreate those styles, a journey of discovery he chronicles in his new book.

It starts in 1680 with the Pueblo people’s revolt against Spanish Governor Antonio de Otermín in Santa Fe, resulting in the retreat of Otermín and his men to what is today El Paso, Texas. They settled the Misión de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur—the site of the first distillery in the area. Braunberg takes readers through the centuries to Repeal, augmenting his tale with photos, maps and newspaper clippings.

This is a history lover’s book filled with stories—like distiller John Laws’s day in court, when he got away with the murder of an employee who had been stealing his whiskey. As for the modern scope of Texas whiskey, Braunberg leaves it to the reader to make their own discoveries.

Fires, Floods, Explosions and Bloodshed: A History of Texas Whiskey, by Andrew Braunberg (140 pages, Statehouse Press, ©2023, $16.95)

Based in Los Angeles, California, Alissa Bica is the Spirits Editor and Critic at Wine & Spirits. She is also a Certified Sommelier and co-runs the home wine tasting company, Côte Brune and Blonde. In any rare moments of free time, she writes about obscure grape varieties in the blog Off the Beaten Wine Path.

This story appears in the print issue of Summer 2023.
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